Time Machine: 60 years ago, manhunt launched to find man who murdered Eagle County undersheriff | VailDaily.com
YOUR AD HERE »

Time Machine: 60 years ago, manhunt launched to find man who murdered Eagle County undersheriff

Eagle County Undersheriff John Clark, shown here, was shot and killed by Delmar Spooner on July 11, 1961. Spooner fled the scene of the murder, launching one of the largest manhunts in Eagle County history.
Photo courtesy Eagle Valley Library District and Eagle County Historical Society

5 years ago

Week of July 14, 2016

Hunter Hayes was the headliner for the Gypsum Daze concert.

Shoppers at the Eagle City Market were coping with construction activities as the store launched an expansion and remodel project.



An underage driver mistook the gas pedal for the brake and crashed through the front of the Eagle Loaf ‘N Jug store. No one was hurt but surveillance video from the store showed that the vehicle narrowly missed several shoppers.

10 years ago

Week of July 14, 2011



The town of Gypsum marked its centennial with a plus-size Gypsum Daze celebration. The Saturday night concert featured the Eli Young Band and the Oak Ridge Boys.

As part of the community’s 100th birthday, the Eagle County Historical Society planned a cemetery tour in Gypsum with actors from the Porchlight Players Community Theaters portraying prominent Gypsum pioneers. The historical society also produced a walking tour guide of the town’s historic properties.

20 years ago

Week of July 12, 2001

Eagle photographer Mike Crabtree was featured in a segment of the television show “Colorado Getaways.” The show also featured a piece about Fulford Cave.

Eagle resident Tom Luby was more than two years into the construction of a home that was super energy efficient and met the standards of the American Lung Association’s “Healthy House” program.

The Eagle Valley Girls U-14 All Stars team won the district qualifying tournament and the squad was headed to the state competition.

30 years ago

Week of July 18, 1991

Three people were injured when the hot air balloon they were riding in touched a hot electric line and caught fire. One passenger was transferred to the University Hospital Burn Unit in Denver with injuries to his face and nasal passages. The craft was flying as part of Avon’s Balloons, Bluegrass and Barbecue event.

An angry Texas couple stormed into the Eagle Regional Information Center and reported a group of naked rafters had stolen towels and watermelon from their picnic table. After some investigation, info center staff discovered the rafters were members of a French rugby team who thought nothing of stripping down and drying off when they finished a commercial tour. The rugby team members mistakenly thought their rafting guides provided the towels and fruit. “It looked like a nudist colony out there,” noted info center manger Bob Shelton.

For the second meeting in a row, the Gypsum Town Council failed to seat a quorum.

40 years ago

Week of July 16, 1981

The town of Eagle and Eagle County drafted a plan for growth in the unincorporated areas around the community. The proposed Eagle Growth Areas boundaries included Red Canyon to the east, Cooley Mesa Road to the west, U.S. Bureau of Land Management property to the north and the town’s water treatment plant to the south.

Eagle instituted restrictive watering rules that prohibited washing driveways or parking areas, filling outside receptacles or using water for dust control. Residents could water lawns every other day between 5 and 11 p.m.

Roof repairs were completed at the Eagle Recreation Center and the summer gymnastics program coached by Dorothy Lorig and Kathy Harris was slated to begin.

A black bear was spotted on Red Table Mountain.

50 years ago

Week of July 15, 1971

A front-page notice warned, “Open burning is a no-no. You can’t even burn your old newspapers — not no more, no how, NO WAY!”

Eagle County School District Superintendent Leonard Hammock said local schools were facing a critical shortage of bus drivers. His plan to solve the problem included offering a special training program for women.

James Ogilvey of the Denver Water Board attended a meeting of the Vail Town Council to present a plan for a proposed $10 million, 10-year trans-mountain project that would divert 70% of the area’s peak runoff into Lake Dillon. In response, local Trout Unlimited chairman Roger Brown presented an opposition petition signed by 375 local residents.

60 years ago

Week of July 13, 1961

Eagle County Undersheriff John Clark and State Patrol Lt. Hiram Short of Craig were killed and Grand County Sheriff Chancy Van Pelt and Colorado Game and Fish biologist Robert Hoover were critically injured in a confrontation with young gunman Delmar Spooner of Storm Lake, Iowa.

The shootout began east of Kremmling when Hoover stopped to offer assistance to a motorist and noticed a large amount of ammunition inside the car. Van Pelt and Short were called to the area and then shot down when they began a vehicle search. Spooner then fled the area and headed south on the Trough Road where Eagle County Sheriff Hank Knuth and Clark had set up a roadblock. When Spooner reached the barricade, a shootout ensued and Clark was fatally injured. Spooner escaped from the area and a widespread manhunt was launched.

“The network of the search is about as complete as it can be. The killer of two is still at large. He may be in the area of the last killing, he may be miles from it. If he is still around this part of the country, time is running out for Delmar Spooner,” the Enterprise reported.

70 years ago

Week of July 12, 1951

Two 16-year-old Denver boys were convicted for a May burglary at the Diamond J Café and sentenced to three to five years at the state penitentiary. The youths had left a three-month long trail of burglaries that covered at least five western states. After they were captured, the duo twice attempted to escape from the Eagle County jail.

The featured movie at the Eagle Theater was “Operation Pacific” starring John Wayne.

80 years ago

Week of July 11, 1941

Four local men were slated to leave for Denver, the latest round of draftees from Eagle County.

Meanwhile, FBI agents arrested a McCoy man after he refused to answer his Selective Service Board questionnaire. The man said he considered his annual financial income his own business and that “he would enjoy a nice rest from ranch life in jail.”

Some of the attendees at the 13th annual Mount of the Holy Cross Pilgrimage expressed “great surprise and keen disappointment upon learning that the last three miles of road is not yet built that would enable everyone to see the Great Cross at little physical effort.”


Support Local Journalism